It has been a while since I have read a book accompanied by a bold instruction that says: “Adults Only”. Eva Mazza’s second and “middle baby” titled Sex, Lies Declassified is certainly not for the faint-hearted. We can all agree that if there is a person who knows how to air the dirty laundry of Stellenbosch in fiction writing, that honour should deservedly go to Eva.
She has once again delivered a scandalous, saucy, and gripping second novel that will leave the readers asking for more once they are done reading it.
In Sex, Lies Declassified, which is the sequel of Mazza’s debut novel, Sex, Lies & Stellenbosch, she picks up where she left off with all the stories that made her one of the best storytellers in the country. The protagonist, Jen Pearce (I hope her surname will change in the third book) is a changed woman, who has grown in confidence and is living her best life away from the drama of Stellenbosch, even though the drama still very much demand her attention.
It is often said the more things change, the more they remain the same, this is so true with regard to the likes of John Pearce and Frankie Holms. Now, I need to give huge credit to Eva in this book.
There are a few things I look forward to seeing when I am reading a sequel. One, character development, have characters evolved from the previous book and of course, the most important thing, the storyline, does the story move forward from the previous book. And here is where I believe Eva has masterfully shown why she is one of the artful writers in contemporary South African literature.
While themes such as racism, adultery, rape, and friendship still form a huge part of her storytelling, the story has moved along nicely with characters driving the plot. John Pearce’s character is one that I find to have evolved deeply. Readers not only know that John does have strong political views about the current trajectory of our country now, but he is also a racist and rapist, yes I said it, John Pearce is a rapist.
It is in John’s character that I think Eva convey a very important message of sexual abuse in this country. Eva shows that rape is rape even if two people have had numerous sexual encounters with each other previously, for as long as there was no consent between the two parties, that is rape and that is what John did to Frankie. He raped Frankie and I hope in the third book, he will pay for his sins.
Sadly, for many women like Frankie, the only option that seems to be available to them after having gone through that assault is to take their lives, because it will be difficult to prove that they have indeed been sexually assaulted because the perpetrators are people who they had numerous sexual encounters with and even seduced them at some point. I feel sad about how Frankie’s life come to an end because it is something that is happening every day in this country, where women will end up committing suicides after having gone through sexual abuse.
I like how Eva kept the same structure throughout, with short chapters that end with nail-biting cliff-hangers. Eva is a brilliant storyteller and I cannot wait for the third instalment of these series. This is an entertaining, informative, and page-turning tale of Stellenbosch’s secret lives.